The Polish developers of Jutsu Games decide to create with Rustler a curious emulation of Grand Theft Auto with a medieval background: let’s find out together in this preview
Going to comb through the website of Jutsu Games some things can be noticed. Jutsu is a Japanese morpheme which means: technique, method, spell or joke. This particle can bind to other words to form always different meanings, but its original meaning evokes a premeditated deception, organized with care and intentionality.
The titles produced by the Polish development team are actually a bit strange. Modern Wizard it is a mobile role-playing game that must be played using the GPS of one’s phone (“in your neighborhood”, say the authors); 911 Operator and 112 Operator are instead two management systems that put us to grips with the problems of those who manage the emergency lines every day.
So let’s get to today’s game. Remember the early Grand Theft Auto? Those prior to the three-dimensional turning point of the legendary third chapter opted for a two-dimensional graphics and a bird’s eye view. Well, as we will see in this preview, Rustler aims to recreate that kind of gameplay … in a medieval context. Let’s go and see if, in addition to the ironic intent, there is also something else.
Titles like those of Jutsu Games may seem like at first glance of simple goliardic attempts. In a historical period that saw the birth and publication of Cyberpunk 2077, Prey, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and many, many other titles capable of raise the media to a higher position and close to intellectual culture, there seems to be no more room for irony. To be as good as a novel, the video game must be taken seriously, or at least this appears to be the trend of these years.
Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with it, but sometimes the power of laughter is greatly underestimated and fun. In any narrative work worthy of the name, the playful component of the divertissement cannot be underestimated. Even in Kafka there is a willingness to laugh, despite what one might think.
Rustler is not Kafka’s Castle, but in this preview we will try to explain why his desire to make us laugh is always good to an industry that, in order to emancipate itself, has forgotten what irony is. Luckily there are indies (if you want to know another Polish game that made us laugh bitterly, you could read our Kosmokrats review).
At the time of writing this preview, Rustler is still in early access. The game will likely change over time, but we hope his dubbing remains intact. Discovering that the characters of the Jutsu Games title are expressed only in disjointed and meaningless verses (fortunately subtitled in good Italian) made us start the day on the right foot. In the shoes of a shady figure with no name we will have to carry out various tasks in a city without a name and in a nameless age.
We are not from the parts of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which was placed in space and time in a very slavish and precise way. Rustler reconstructs a generic Middle Ages, full of references to pop culture, in which horses must be parked in specific areas (marked by a blue sign with the letter P), the minstrels improvise free style rap with dubious taste and the city guards even have a siren on their horses.
Going haphazardly on the keyboard we find that there is a key used to emit burps and farts. We can do it continuously, at any time, and the game considers it as a hidden feature that is not explained through the tutorial. The developers put it in just to laugh and to make us laugh. Frankly, we believe we’d love to see it in every title from here on out. Even in those who take themselves seriously.
For the rest Rustler’s narrative doesn’t go much further and we believe it is right. Sometimes we will have to kill a specific target, other times we will have to steal a horse and repaint it at a station “Pimp My Horse“, But the only purpose of the game is to be hilarious. The characters do not enjoy a great characterization and maybe Rustler’s main limitation is exactly that. Sometimes even a laugh can be deep and multifaceted.
The gameplay of Rustler, as we will see in this preview, truly reminiscent of the very old Grand Theft Auto. The control system is that of a twin stick shooter. We will direct the gaze of our character with the mouse and move it with the classic W, A, S, D. With a click of the left button it will be possible to attack with our fists or with one of the other weapons that we can retrieve around.
The game structure is very simple and provides for accept missions scattered around the map and solve them. The tasks are fairly varied and very fun, in the best tradition of Rockstar games. There is a certain interaction with the game world. We can attack passers-by, steal cars … er, horses, hit them, break some object and so on.
There is also a system of character development. It is related to the collection of horseshoes with which to unlock various upgrades. The idea, although a bit trivial, could fit well into the context of the game, but the impression is that it cannot really offer greater depth in the long run.
The feeling of the weapons is good, the variety of situations too, and in general it seems to us that the core of the gameplay has been well done. We would like, however, to see some more variety in the management of the open world component of the title. The searchable map isn’t exactly large and actually has little to offer, except for the main missions. The big problem with games à la Grand Theft Auto has always been this, but Rockstar has been able to make up for it with a lot of side activities to indulge in.
Although the backbone of the title is quite successful, therefore, we hope that Jutsu Games will continue to expand Rustler making his little world more and more full of secondary entertainmentotherwise it could run the risk of being just an empty, lifeless shell.
The technical aspect of the Rustler, however, is not bad at all. The title opts for a cel shading style in the character models, however, using soft and colorful textures as regards the settings and materials. We are not facing a technical prodigy, but the atmosphere is very simple and is rendered in a pleasant way. The particular combination of medieval aesthetics and elements taken by weight from our world always manages to elicit a laugh and is the result of a very clever collage in its apparent quirkiness.
The sound accompaniment is also quite successful. We have already talked about the wonderful dubbing, while the game’s soundtrack is made up of medieval music and particular beat box pieces; these two trends are not necessarily separate from each other and we will often be able to listen to them at the same time. A gem: by beating a minstrel it is possible to make him change song, as if it were a juke box of the past.
We conclude this preview of Rustler with a short final comment. THEThe title, in the current state of early access, is still a bit immature. The basic gameplay is particularly successful. The feel of the shots is satisfying, the fights are quite fun and the overall look is nice. However, the open world nature of the title makes it necessary to add a substrate of secondary assets that would be able to break more easily the pace of the main objectives, destined in a short time to be too repetitive.
The Jutsu Games experiment he still has many possibilities ahead of him, and for now we have decided to reward him for his basic originality and for his ability to make us laugh with each of his characteristics. If you are interested in buying it or buying other titles at a discounted price, you might want to take a look at Instant-Gaming. For everything else, don’t forget to follow us on our pages and let us know what you think of the game in the comments.
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